Category Archives for "Fitness"

TFP 048: Optimizing Your Strength and Conditioning Workouts with Dominic King

TFP 048: Optimizing Your Strength and Conditioning Workouts with Dominic King

On today’s episode of The Tennis Files Podcast, I spoke with Dominic King, Head of Athlete Development for Everyball Tennis at Halton Tennis Centre in the United Kingdom.  Dom is an expert in strength and conditioning for tennis players, and it was a great pleasure speaking with him and learning about many important principles and tips about tennis fitness.

Dom has a very accomplished background. He is an iTPA Master Tennis Performance Specialist (MTPS), one of only a small number of people to hold this designation worldwide. Dom is also an Accredited Strength & Conditioning Coach (ASCC) with the UK Strength & Conditioning Association, and an NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES). Dom holds numerous other professional qualifications as well. 

Dom trains club players anywhere from 8 to 80 + years old and loves helping each player improve and develop as a tennis athlete. We covered several important areas of tennis strength and conditioning, including how players can optimize their workouts, optimal rep ranges and recovery periods, and key exercises to improve your tennis game.  I hope you enjoy my interview with Dom!

Time-Stamped Show Notes

  • [3:16] What made Dom decide to specialize in the fitness side of tennis?
  • [5:19] Dom’s competitive tennis background
  • [6:27] Accreditations and degrees Dom finds the most useful for his profession as a tennis strength and conditioning expert
  • [9:13] Mehrban talks about taking the iTPA exam to become a certified Tennis Performance Trainer in 3 months
  • [10:15] Athletes/coaches Dom looked up to the most when he was figuring out his career path
  • [12:43] How many strength and conditioning sessions do Dom’s players usually partake in per week?
  • [14:30] How long does each S&C training session last for on average?
  • [15:50] How should we split our workouts in terms of what part of the body is being worked out (i.e. legs day, arms day, push-pull etc.)?
  • [17:43] Why working out for a tennis player is different than general weight training
  • [21:53] Rep ranges and recovery periods that Dom’s players use, and whether it varies on the off season or type of workout
  • [25:10] Is there a use for low rep ranges and 90%+ of 1 rep max for tennis players?
  • [27:52] 3 exercises that transfer into better performance on the court
  • [32:39] Is the bench press a useful exercise for tennis players?
  • [34:33] How often you should change up a workout routine
  • [36:44] Should we use tennis-specific exercises in our weight training, or should we get players strong in a more traditional manner first?
  • [39:30] The biggest mistake that tennis players make when training
  • [42:20] Tips for players to maintain their strength and conditioning while constantly traveling on the road to tournaments
  • [46:42] Can players have a good S&C workout without weights?
  • What types of equipment do you suggest they use?
  • [48:39] Use of the legs and rotation to generate power and what we can learn from boxing and other combat sports
  • [53:10] How important are the legs for the serve?
  • [55:57] What other sports are most similar to tennis?
  • [58:44] Dom’s experiences working with players of all different ages
  • [1:04:17] A typical day training tennis players at Halton Tennis Centre in the UK
  • [1:07:00] 3 books Dom would gift to a friend to help them increase their knowledge about tennis fitness and strength and conditioning.
  • [1:09:18] Where we can find Dom online and in person
  • [1:11:04] One myth about strength and conditioning for tennis
  • [1:12:28] One key tip to help you improve your strength and conditioning for tennis

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Links Mentioned in the Show

Dom’s Website – www.maximiseathleticperformance.com

Dom on Twitter – DomJKing

International Tennis Performance Association 

Complete Conditioning for Tennis

Tuesday’s with Morrie (Dom’s book recommendation)

TFP 033: Dr. Mark Kovacs – Strength and Conditioning for Tennis Players

TFP 039: Todd Ellenbecker – Injury Prevention and Recovery

Dom’s Email Address – dom@everyball.net

Tennis Technique Summit

Note: Some of the links above are affiliate links, so if you make a purchase after clicking them, I make Eleventy-Billion dollars a small commission that helps support the podcast. Thanks either way! 🙂

If you enjoyed my interview with Dom, subscribe to The Tennis Files Podcast in iTunes or your favorite podcast app!

For more tips on how to improve your game, download a free copy of my eBook, The Building Blocks of Tennis Success below! Thanks for listening!

2 TFP 039: Todd Ellenbecker On Injury Prevention and Recovery

TFP 039: Todd Ellenbecker—Injury Prevention and Recovery

Today I had the pleasure of speaking with Todd Ellenbecker, DPT, MS, SCS, OCS, CSCS (whew!). Todd is the Vice President of Medical Services for the ATP Tour and a Director of Physiotherapy Associates Scottsdale Sports Clinic in Arizona. He was kind enough to join me to talk about injury prevention and recovery for tennis players.

I received a ton of questions from all of you because injuries are a huge part of the game. We must take measures to prevent injuries, and properly recover when we have the misfortune of getting them. Otherwise, we will not be able to play the sport we love for very long.

Todd’s advice goes beyond helping your tennis game, and will help you lead a much healthier, more functional life. If you don’t make time to work on your physical strength and flexibility, you’ll never reach your tennis potential.

Todd, along with recent The Tennis Files Podcast guest Dr. Mark Kovacs and Paul E. Roetert, is a co-author of Complete Conditioning for Tennis. This book has been a life-changer for me and my game. I have used it to formulate my own periodized workout routine and am seeing fantastic results on and off the court because I am committed to the program.

Thanks so much to Todd for coming onto The Tennis Files Podcast and providing us all with such amazing value. His expertise in the area of physiotherapy is truly second to none!

Time-Stamped Show Notes

  • [1:49] How Todd became the VP of Medical Services for the ATP Tour and Director of a Physiotherapy Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ
  • [3:36] Todd’s degrees and certifications
  • [5:29] Three things most of the world doesn’t know about Todd
  • [6:20] Why do tennis players get injured?
  • [7:37] Can you get injured with good technique?
  • [9:09] Three of the most common injuries on the ATP Tour today
  • [10:52] Difference in injuries now versus previous generations of players
  • [12:20] What we can do to protect the shoulder
  • [13:53] Why traditional heavy lifting can be detrimental to tennis players
  • [16:20] The optimal time to train and perform exercises
  • [18:30] A case study on how Ram, a member of our audience, can recover from a rotator cuff injury
  • [21:09] The cause of hip pain and how to remedy it
  • [23:14] Todd’s duties as the Vice President of Medical Services for the ATP Tour, and how Todd and other ATP physiotherapists go out on the court to treat professional tennis players during medical timeouts
  • [25:00] The most common injuries treated during medical timeouts
  • [26:17] How often are medical timeouts used for gamesmanship, and how are trainers supposed to respond if they sense this
  • [27:41] Todd’s favorite tools that we can use to prevent injuries
  • [30:28] Three things that amateur players can do to prevent injuries
  • [33:45] How can Doug help his team deal with shin splints
  • [36:44] Where can our audience follow Todd online?

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Links Mentioned in the Show

Complete Conditioning for Tennis

Physiotherapy Associates Scottsdale Sports Clinic

Note: The link to Complete Conditioning for Tennis above is an affiliate link, so if you make a purchase after clicking, I make a small commission. Thanks either way!

If you enjoyed my interview about injury prevention and recovery with Todd, subscribe to The Tennis Files Podcast in iTunes or your favorite podcast app!

For more tips on how to improve your game, download a free copy of my eBook, The Building Blocks of Tennis Success eBook below! Thanks for listening!

8 Simple Tests to Analyze Your Tennis Progress

The 8 Most Critical Tennis Skills and How to Test Them

In a world of cookie-cutter programs and one-size fits all solutions, analyzing your game is the first real step to progress.

Trying to find the “best” fitness program or the “top” tennis drills without knowing what areas you need to work on to optimize your play is a waste of time. What are your deficiencies? What skills or attributes will most improve your game if you focus on training them?

After interviewing some of the best tennis coaches in the world on my podcast, including Brian Boland, Martin BlackmanAllistair McCaw, and Dr. Mark Kovacs, I’ve heard a common theme about producing great tennis players and athletes. Knowing the individual—the strengths, areas that need improvement, and what makes the person tick, to name a few—is critical to maximizing the player’s performance.

Before we get into the skills and tests, I need to give credit where it is due. I learned many of the fitness tests and average scores below from Complete Conditioning for Tennis (2nd edition). I can’t stress enough how much this book, and my amazing podcast guests, have helped me improve my tennis conditioning and my game.

There are several skills which you need to assess before confidently creating a training program that best suits your individual needs. They are the following:

1. Technique

Biomechanically efficient technique is highly determinative of your tennis potential. Deficient technique will cause errors, especially in pressure situations. It can be even more destructive when you have bad technique and know you do, because your confidence in your game will be compromised. More importantly, biomechanical inefficiencies can lead to undue stress on the body and eventual injury. There’s a good chance that there is a stroke or two in your game that you can improve.

Action Step: Record your play with a camera or cell phone and examine your strokes to determine which shots need the most improvement from a technical standpoint. Even better: have a coach grade you on each of your strokes.

2. Footwork Speed/Agility

If you aren’t in position to hit the ball, everything else (technique, power, endurance, etc) is irrelevant. Many players incorrectly attribute a bad shot to incorrect technique when the culprit is often suboptimal footwork. Your footwork speed, intensity, and efficiency is a critical aspect of your game that needs to be developed. Your footwork affects every single shot in your repertoire. It is the difference between a powerful, offensive, and balanced strike, and a short, defensive, attackable one.

Action Step: Perform a 20 yard dash and record your time. Between 3.3-3.4 seconds (men/women) is an average time. Evaluate your lateral speed by shuffling sideways from the middle of the court to the right doubles line, left doubles line, and back to the middle. A time of 7.0 seconds is an average score for men and women. Analyze a match or practice session and see how consistently you are prepared and in position to hit each shot.

3. Power

Tennis is an explosive sport. A fast start makes a crucial difference in your ability to strike the ball in a comfortable versus a compromised position. Both the quickness of your initial reaction and sustained speed will determine how much time you will have to hit your shot. If you train in the gym to improve your game, you can’t ignore the explosive part of weight training if you want it to translate on the tennis court.

Action Step: Stand sideways next to a wall or tennis fence, reach up as high as you can, and mark that spot with tape or any adhesive. Then jump as high as you can, touch the wall, and mark that spot. Measure the difference between the two points. Between 12-16 inches for females and 21-26 inches for males is an average score.

4. Mental Fortitude

Mental strength in the face of adversity is one of the most critical skills for all tennis players. You can have picture-perfect strokes and unparalleled athletic ability, but if you do not have self-belief, a competitive desire, and the ability to overcome adversity, you will not be successful on the tennis court.

Action Step: Evaluate your results over the past year. How do you perform during critical points? Are you winning most of your big matches?  Do you think about forces out of your control while playing? If you find yourself underperforming in pressure situations, you need to make mental fortitude a priority.

5. Flexibility

If you are not flexible, you increase your chance of pain, injury, and a short career in the sport. In addition to reversing these issues, by training your flexibility, you will be able to retrieve more balls and return shots from uncomfortable positions. If you want a healthier body and a hugely improved tennis game, you must work on your flexibility. On my podcast, Allistair McCaw remarked that flexibility is the main reason why Novak Djokovic became #1 in the world. Watch the Serbian at work, and you will have little opportunity for argument.

Action Step: Assess your flexibility with a trained professional. You can also perform basic stretch flexibility tests, such as measuring how far you can reach toward your toes (2-4 inches past the toes for females and 1-2 for males is an average score) and the internal shoulder flexibility test.

6. Endurance

Sustaining a high-level of play for several hours on the court is critical for any competitive tennis player. The most crucial period of any match is closing out the win, and if you cannot perform optimally because of fatigue, you are doing your game a huge disservice.

Action Step: Assess your endurance by considering how your perform at the end of matches relative to your intensity and focus at the beginning/middle of play. Run 1.5 miles and record your time. Around a 14-15 minute time for females and 11-12 minutes for males is average.

7. Strength

We can all agree that the best tennis players don’t look like powerlifters or football players. That said, players often severely underestimate the impact strength plays in improving a player’s game. Dr. Mark Kovacs explained that while flexibility is very important, a muscle that is not strong enough and overstretched can cause injury. The stronger you are, the more you will be able to develop your speed and power from your base of strength.

Action Step: See how many pushups you can perform in one-minute. Based on Complete Conditioning for Tennis (2nd edition), around 30 push-ups for females and 35 for males represents an average score.

8. Strategy

Creating and implementing a solid strategy for your matches will result in more wins. As I discussed in my article on how to formulate a winning game plan, formulating strategy based on your game and your opponent’s game offers many advantages, including helping you stay focused, handle pressure, and play matches more optimally.

Action Step: Analyze how often you plan and implement strategy before tennis matches. Do you usually feel outplayed or controlled by your opponent (i.e. you are reactive rather than proactive)? If you want to learn how to formulate winning game-plans before your matches, download my free match-strategy guide below!

CLICK HERE to download my free strategy guide.

Periodic Re-evaluation

To gauge your progress, perform tests on the skills above periodically. It depends on how often you’d like to know your numbers, but every couple months is a good baseline. Try to replicate the same conditions as when you took the first test for a more accurate sense of your progression (i.e. same amount of sleep, rest, food, etc).

Complete Conditioning for Tennis

The last thing I want to emphasize is that you pick up a copy of Complete Conditioning for Tennis (2nd edition). It contains hundreds more self-assessment tests, exercises, and advice on how to analyze your capabilities and create your own fitness program based on your individual needs.

I give a huge amount of credit to Complete Conditioning for Tennis (2nd edition), Dr. Mark Kovacs, Todd S. Ellenbecker, E. Paul Roetert, and all of my amazing podcast guests for helping me become a better tennis player.

(Note: the links to Complete Conditioning for Tennis are affiliate links. If you click them and make a purchase, I make a small commission. Thanks either way!)

Final Thoughts

The key takeaway here is to assess your strengths and weaknesses of the skills above, and formulate your tennis goals and training regimen according to your findings.

And I’ve heard from a lot of you asking about my training program since I posted a sneak peak of it on instagram recently, so I will be discussing it soon in a future post! 🙂

Analyze your game and let us know what skills you need to improve in the comments section!

To help you plan and create your fitness and training goals, download your free copy of my SMART Goals guide below!

2 TFP 033: Dr. Mark Kovacs—Strength and Conditioning for Tennis Players

TFP 033: Dr. Mark Kovacs—Strength and Conditioning for Tennis Players

On today’s episode, I spoke with world renowned sports science and fitness expert Dr. Mark Kovacs about strength and conditioning for tennis. Mark has trained numerous top professional tennis players, including John Isner, Sloane Stephens, Sam Querrey, Donald Young, and Melanie Oudin. Stack named Mark one of the Top 31 Fitness Professionals to Follow in 2015.

Mark is a performance physiologist, researcher, professor, author, speaker and coach with an extensive background training and researching elite athletes. He has been featured in many of the biggest sports and news publications, including ESPN, the New York Times, and Tennis Magazine. Mark was also a top college player at Auburn and achieved a world ranking on the ATP Tour.

To sum it up, Mark has one heck of a resume, and it is an honor to speak with him on the show today.

Mark co-authored an amazing book and resource, Complete Conditioning for Tennis (2nd edition), which was published a couple months ago. I have a copy of his book and have had a hard time putting it down in my spare time. It has a ton of invaluable information on how we can put together a personalized fitness program using the exercises and in-depth knowledge from Mark, E. Paul Roetert (former managing director of the United States Tennis Association’s Player Development Program) and Todd S. Ellenbecker (Vice President, Medical Services ATP World Tour, and clinic director at Physiotherapy Associates Scottsdale Sports Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona).

The book also includes 56 videos illustrating the exercises and stretches which you can access online. The value in this book is unparalleled in comparison to any other tennis fitness book I’ve seen on the market so far.

In this episode, I ask Mark questions on how we can improve our tennis fitness to become better tennis players. We also talk about Complete Conditioning for Tennis (2nd edition) and some of the principles in the book that will help take your game to the next level.

Mark has an unbelievable amount of knowledge in sports science for tennis, and provided us all with a ton of value on The Tennis Files Podcast.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • [3:18]  How Mark became a world-class fitness expert
  • [5:08]  Mark’s degrees and certifications
  • [7:14]  One thing about Mark that most people don’t know
  • [8:27]  The elements of tennis fitness
  • [10:25]  How to train the different elements of fitness
  • [12:30] – What most tennis players lack in their fitness
  • [14:12]  The muscle group that amateur players tend to undertrain the most
  • [15:39]  Ways to train your your weakest muscle group
  • [17:16]  How low should we go when we squat
  • [19:22]  What type of squat should we use during training
  • [22:35]  Will partial squats put pressure on the knees
  • [25:04]  What set/rep/weight ranges should we use for our exercises and what are the effects of using different ones
  • [29:16]  What is periodization and how does it affect our training
  • [32:30]  In what order should we train the different fitness elements in a periodization program for maximum results
  • [36:07]  What are the best strengthening exercises for the serve
  • [38:37]  The importance of the kinetic chain and discussing Mark’s “An 8-stage model for the tennis serve” scientific study
  • [42:47]  How do we correct inefficient footwork
  • [45:56]  Mark’s favorite footwork drills to help your speed and agility
  • [49:10]  Stretches that tennis players should incorporate into their routine
  • [51:41]  Analysis of professional tennis players’ fitness and why tennis is one of the toughest sports in the world
  • [53:53]  How can we get the most value out of Complete Conditioning for Tennis (2nd ed.) and put what we learn into action
  • [56:07]  What has changed in the 2nd Edition of Complete Conditioning for Tennis from the 1st Edition
  • [57:27]  Mark’s favorite chapters in the book
  • [58:24]  Where can we get Complete Conditioning for Tennis
  • [59:39]  One common misconception/myth about tennis fitness among tennis players
  • [1:01:26]  Other books and articles that Mark has authored
  • [1:02:06] – Where we can find Mark online and on social media
  • [1:04:14]  Mark’s one tip that will help us improve our tennis games

I can’t thank Mark enough, who was extremely responsive through social media and email, for coming onto the show. He continues to make a huge impact on the success and lives of countless athletes, and I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to put his advice and principles in Complete Conditioning for Tennis (2nd edition) into action!

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Links Mentioned in This Episode

Complete Conditioning for Tennis (2nd edition)

Tennis Anatomy

Dynamic Stretching

The Flexible Stretching Strap Workbook

Mark-Kovacs.com

ITPA-tennis.org

Interview with Allistair McCaw

Mark’s Facebook/Twitter/Instagram (mkovacsphd)

Note: Some of the links above are affiliate links, so if you make a purchase after clicking, I make a small commission.

Regardless of where you purchase Mark’s book, I hope you give it a read! I highly recommend it and will post a book review once I am finished reading this incredible fitness resource.

If you enjoyed my interview with Mark, be sure to subscribe to The Tennis Files Podcast! Next up on the schedule are Brian Boland (head coach at national champion University of Virginia Men’s Tennis) and Martin Blackman (Head of Player Development at USTA).

For more tennis tips to improve your game, download my free eBook, The Building Blocks of Tennis Success, by subscribing to my newsletter below!